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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#597938
Monk Season One Overview

We’ll Need Some Help:
Retired Detective Adrian Monk is getting over the death of his wife Trudy. He is called in by order of the mayor to solve a crime and becomes a consultant for the department. With several layers of phobias, he is nonetheless an amazing detective solving crimes that stump the department. Amongst the people he meets are a track icon and Willie Nelson. After an unfortunate incident, he is committed to an asylum for a time.

He is accompanied by Sharona Fleming, his assistant. The mother of a young boy, she visits her sister in the aftermath of an earthquake and meets Tim Daly. He also has Dr. Kroger, his psychiatrist who is willing to pencil in Monk even if it is during lunch.

Leland Stottlemeyer is flummoxed at the things Monk can see but recognizes Monk’s talents. He is begrudging acceptance eases as the season goes on. His right hand Is Lieutenant Disher who only had one oddball theory this year. Even when they write off a scene, Monk will find something that pushes even the coldest case into the spotlight.

In addition to the earthquake, Monk survives an airplane ride (plus the return tr[p one presumes), a carnival and the most dreaded thing there is, a relaxing vacation. He also meets his nemesis in Dale “the Whale” Beiderbeck.

Favorite This Week’s Compulsion: From Mr. Monk Goes to a Carnival: In a review for reinstatement, bad window blinds, a missed throw to the wastepaper basket and spilled water are among the ‘distractions’ Monk predominantly avoids.

Favorite White Courtesy Phone: From Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum: Sharona notices Monk is at a stranger’s home due to caller ID. Too bad she didn’t notice that earlier, like when she picked up the phone initially.

Favorite Captain Moustache: From Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger: Stottlemeyer is not able to authorize the raise Sharona is requesting. He refers her to someone in another department.

Favorite Dishing it out: From Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man, Monk points out some partially painted toenails on a victim as evidence of a surprise, but Disher believes that might be the style.

Favorite Let’s Talk it Out: From Mr. Monk and the Candidate: Dr. Kroger has a pillow askew in his meeting with Monk. It is an open question as to whether he deliberately put it there.

Favorite The Innocence of Youth: From Mr. Monk and the Psychic: Benjy Fleming makes an appearance, officially becoming the first recurring character, although he is played by Max Morrow as he will throughout the remainder of season instead of Kane Richotte who played him in the pilot. He remarks about how odd it is to be out in the middle of the night helping Monk. Later, he gives Stottlemeyer Sharona’s whereabouts while asking about a sleepover.

Favorite It Recurs to Me: From Mr. Monk and the Other Woman: Stellina Rusich makes several overexposed appearances as Trudy, her first appearance since the pilot.

Favorite Let’s Up the Rating: From Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation: Accused murdered/affairing John Fenimore says that he made up with his wife after their fight. Twice. Also, this hotel has many extras in swimwear.

Favorite Here’s What Happened: From Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum: When another character narrates, it is in sepia tone, not black and white.

Favorite One More Time: From Mr. Monk and the Psychic: “I thought this was my office. I got confused because my name is on the door.”
Stottlemeyer walking into his office an seeing Monk and Sharona.

Dear Genre: From Battlestar Galactica, Michael Hogan graces the pilot followed by Adam Arkin, Kevin Nealon, Amy Sedaris , Gerry Mashall and genre director Milan Cheylov all have work in the inaugural season.

The Rainbow Treknection: Stephen McHattie who played Senator Vreenak is the only one who really cracks this list.

Trivial Matters: From Mr. Monk and the Candidate: So many great behind the scenes stories which you would expect from the pilot.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Would you like us to move the crash site a little closer to you?” It is easy to remember in this era of streaming and binging that there was a time when whole episodes were available on VHS, DVD and DVR, people did not watch every episode religiously. Heck, even serialized shows on networks know not everyone will watch every episode and write accordingly.

This season can be split int two easily. The first eight episodes go out of their way to mention Trudy and Sottlemeyer’s reluctance every week. Three are understandable and four would be pushing it but this goes a bit too far. Trudy will remain in the ether, but Stottlemeyer would eventually drop the chip on his shoulder.

Really episode Nine, Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation represents a new era. It is more than the references; they show has found itself and has fun. It is rare to watch someone suffering and have enjoyment at it, but the show finds the groove. Monk is in on the gag, or at least Shaloub is. You can see things going his way on occasion and the moments of joy are evident.

A lot of credit goes to the core cast, particularly Shaloub. There is a lot of weight where the writers rely on him to carry a scene and he does. He owns the screen and the role. You can see the writing giving him and the rest of the cast enough room to shine. It is not a prefect first season but establishes the characters and situations.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#598299
Mr. Monk Goes Back to School
Season 2, Episode 1
Written by: David Breckman (teleplay and story) & Rick Kronberg (story)
Directed by Randy Zisk
Original Air Date: 20 June 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: Derek and Beth are canoodling in a car late at night. Beth wants Derek to tell his wife, but Derek is not so inclined. She gives an ultimatum, and he agrees, asking her to meet him the following morning at their usual spot at eight before he is administering the S.A.T. The next morning at half past eight, Derek is administering the test and Beth falls out of the clock tower onto a car.

Monk and Sharona’s game of chess is interrupted by a call from Arleen Cassidy, an old friend of Trudy’s and now in charge of said school. They reminisce about Trudy and Cassidy reveals that though the police suspect a suicide, anyone who knew Beth would doubt that. She offers to pay but Monk declines in honor of Trudy over Sharona’s stare.

There are some inconsistencies with the setup before the supposed jump and the suicide note has too many grammatical errors for an English teacher of Beth’s caliber. There are also questions on the car she fell into, Derek’s. The alarm alerted the students but why was the alarm on in the first place in such a safe neighborhood?

Some staff are discussing the event and Monk has an opportunity to talk to Derek. Monk is suspicious when he notices Derek repeatedly removes his wedding ring and knew about the note before Monk told them about it. Monk asks Cassidy about Derek and finds out he will be leaving soon to be a headmaster at another school. The investigation is formally closed, meaning Monk has no reason to stay, but they need a substitute for Beth and Monk volunteers.

Monk’s first class does not go well. He takes three hours to write his name on the board and the teenage students are so bored one of them throws an eraser at him. Thankfully, Sharona is in the hall and verbally (and physically) assaults the culprit who happens to have a parent on the faculty. Lunch is pretty sloppy, and Monk finds where popular Sharona would have sat before finding where nerdy Monk would try and eat in relative peace. They eat with a couple students of Derek’s who note that he didn’t get up from his chair when Beth fell, despite all the students doing so.

As Derek leaves for the day, he runs into the groundkeeper who admits to lying to Monk and Sharona. The groundskeeper saw something and finds Derek clever, eventually asking for a ten thousand dollar bribe to keep quiet.

Monk and Sharona are confronted by the bully’s dad, a fitness teacher. He all but challenges Monk to fisticuffs but swears revenge. That night, Derek sets a trap at the groundskeeper’s house to make it look like a gas accident. The next morning, Monk says there is no reason for a fire to be lit as the prior night was cool and the air conditioner is on. Stottlemeyer can no longer consider the matter a suicide and asks for someone to go to the school before finding out about Monk.

Disher and Stotlemeyer are at Beth’s apartment and note her strong prescription. She wasn’t wearing glasses when she fell.

At dinner, Benjy tells Monk to stand up to the bully’s father. The next morning, Monk confronts Derek as class ends. Beth was pregnant, according to medical reports Sharona obtained. Monk suspects Derek to be the father but there is no proof since the body was cremated and being a science teacher, Derek wants proof.

At the crime scene, Monk still wonders how Derek did it. As they descend the stairs down, they find crushed glasses on a landing. Monk is confronted by the father and the bell goes off, helping Monk solve the case and agreeing to give the bully an A while the father is confused as to who won.

Monk tells Derek that the full-time replacement for Beth will be in the following day. He also mentions that they need to find Beth’s glasses. They are not on the roof or on the body. There will be hundreds of police cadets searching the grounds the next day; when they find the glasses they will find where Beth was murdered. Thant night, Derek goes to the tower and finds the glasses. As he leaves, he is arrested. Monk deduces that he killed Beth then placed her on the minute hand of the clock tower at a quarter past eight. Gravity did the rest and he made sure to park where the body would fall and turned on the alarm on his car. The proof is in Derek’s hands; Monk planted the glasses on the landing, a location only the killer would know.

As Cassidy and Sharona talk about Trudy, Monk is at her favorite tree, yearbook in hand.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk insists on centering all the pieces in the Chess game, falsely believing Sharona will thank him later.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona licks her queen to prevent Monk from capturing her. Also, when confronting the bully, she knows when a man is lying having been married for three years.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyr has seen suicide notes handwritten, in blood and crayon.

Dishing it out: Disher has the unenviable task of letting Sottlemeyer know Monk is on the scene. They go over everything to make sure they didn’t miss something.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy gets plates so Monk is not forced to have different parts of his dinner touch.

Let’s Up the Rating: Derek likes Beth’s neck. Plus, a some of the dialogue in the chess game is … charged.

One More Time: “This has to be your worst nightmare, a crime scene on a roof.” “No not my worst, fourth. Or fifth. No wait, fourth. Fifth? I don’t know, I didn’t bring my list with me.”
Monk being unprepared for once.

Dear Genre: Derek Sim is played by Andrew McCathy, star of the two Weekend at Bernie’s movies.

The Rainbow Treknection: Arleen Cassidy is played by Mrs. O’Brien herself, Roaslind Chao.

Trivial Matters: This was the first episode to use Randy Newman’s “It’s a Jungle out There” theme song.

Derek is a science teacher and Beth is an English teacher, to the point where one quotes Macbeth.

Despite teaching English, Monk has the students do an oral presentation on history. Not to be outdone, physics teacher Derek taches chemistry and has specimens for biology.

Beth was modeled after creator Andy Breckman’s wife.

Benjy is played by Kane Ritchotte who had the role in the pilot and will continue through the end of the series.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “She cut her hair last week, why would she do that if she was going to kill herself?” Nowadays, we are used to a slam bang of a season premiere. This is not that, though we do get a bitching pyrotechnic explosion. Talk about overkill!

The theme of going to school is a good one for a season opener as we associate that with the start of something new. There are a lot of tropes in the episode including the bully and the bully’s dad, crappy lunches (at a private school?) and a gossipy staff. There are no teen soapy drama elements, but it is written great for the most part. There is a scene in the teachers, lounge where Monk mixes the regular and decaf coffees to make them even which goes on a bit too long but also Monk’s writing his name on the chalkboard is beyond far too long. There had to be a better use of screen time and Shaloub tries to but ultimately cannot sell it. Plus, did he really just stand there for the rest of the class? And no one did anything? Additionally, Sharona outright assaults a bully and gets away with it? And is allowed back on campus?

The unseen character of Trudy is looming over the episode. We learn a lot about her and her love for her school by the marks she left on the campus, all identifiable by Monk, along with Cassidy as an old friend. The onscreen cast is admirable with Disher and Stottlemeyer having a mini conference before letting Monk up. Sharona crosses the line but is there to help Monk.

The plot itself is a good one to come back to after the break and it is fairly well acted though Chao brings some gravitas to the role. We know she and Monk never met but they bond over Trudy. It is great to see two experienced actors having some camaraderie onscreen. There are enough science fans in the community that will admire Andrew McCarthys insistence on proof as science teacher Derek.

Not the bitching premiere but a solid one to start with.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#598649
Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico
Season 2 Episode 2
Directed by: Ron Underwood
Written by: Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin
Original Air Date: June 27, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: In Baja Mexico, a couple friends are watching their buddy, Chip, jump from a plane. They have had a few drinks but wonder why Chip doesn’t pull the cord of his parachute. He does but nothing happens and Chip hits the ground. The medical examiner determines that the cause of death was drowning; his lungs had no air in them.

It turns out Chip was the son of a wealthy businessman who is a friend of the mayor, and they want Monk to investigate. Sharona is happy to have a vacation and they drive to Mexico. They arrive and Sharona takes out the earplugs she used to block out Monk. They raise the eyebrow of customs who wonder why Monk’s eighteen suitcases are full of repackaged food, bottled water, spare pillowcases, etc. Monk and Sharona meet Captain Almeada and Lieutenant Plato, Mexican versions of Stottlemeyer and Disher. Almaeda and Platt suspect drugs and tell the couple they will not be in Mexico long.

At a local hotel, most of which were booked for Spring Break, they look through the case file, intending to interview the friends and the baffled pilot later. Their room has amenities both good (air conditioning, special lighting, good view) and bad (a bug on the pillow, peeling wallpaper, a list of things you cannot flush down the toilet). The friends confirm that Chip won a skydiving lesson from a contest and was talking to them before he jumped. Monk spots someone wearing a suit similar to his. Thinking they may have information, Monk chases the man but gets chased by a truck which he narrowly avoid getting hit by.

Medical examiner Madero confirms the details of the death, Chip drowned just before impact. They reminisce about a case from a year ago where a wild lion attacked someone out of nowhere. They are sure of the culprit since Madero did the examination himself. The pilot offers some more information. Chip’s prize was a forgery that they did not realize at the time. Also, the cord on the chute was cut and they are now checked repeatedly by several staff.

A friend of Ship’s, TJ, is not eager to speak with Monk and Sharona so they settle it the only way possible in civilized society, a drinking contest. Sharona wins single handedly and TJ gives them a key Chip had but they do not know what lock it opens. Sharona stays and comes back to the hotel that night nursing a hangover. Monk believes they key might open a locker at the bus station, but Shrona is in no condition to accompany so Monk goes alone. Unfortunately, the same truck from earlier runs him over.

The next morning Sharona comes to but hears from Almaeda and Plato that Monk is dead. Almaeda also delivers news to Stotlemeyer over the phone. Upon learning he crawled through the mud and garbage while alive, Sharona is sure it was not Monk. She is right as Monk walks in with a bag retrieved from the locker. The news is given to a grieving Stottlemeyer who goes from funeral planning to hating Monk.

Almaeda has a wacky theory and disbelieves counterpoints by the people being paid off. Nonetheless, they bring in the resort owner on the theory that Chip drowned at the pool there and was put on the plane to make it look like an accident. It does not help that Chip was allergic to chlorine and would not go to the pool.

While they are at the station, a nefarious figure plants a bomb being a painting in Monk’s room. Thankfully, circumstances arrange in such a way that not only does the bomb not go off, it is found. Almaeda and Plato have no leads but wonder if someone in the city has it out for people from San Francisco as Chip, the lion’s victim and Monk are from there. That solves the case entirely. Years ago, Monk testified against a Doctor Nevara in front of a grand jury. Nevara became Madero and wanted revenge, so he created cases to bring Monk to Mexico to enact revenge. There was an unidentified set of prints from the parachute, and they might match his.

Back home, Monk orders thousands of bottles of water. He also gets word that the trial for Nevara is set and wonders why someone he never met would want to kill him while Sharona just gives him a blank stare.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk wants to wait for the mailman to be sure the letter he put in the mailbox is delivered.

White Courtesy Phone: Upon hearing they have to wait for the mailman to pick up his wares, Sharona is happy she is paid by the hour.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer exposits while Monk examines the mailman.

Dishing it out: Disher has to follow the mailman and make sure he doesn’t drop a letter.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy is unseen, but Sharona is sure to find a sitter. She also talks to him while in Mexico, presumably more than the one time we see on screen.

Let’s Up the Rating: Plato wasn’t sure if he should book one room of two for Monk and Sharona. The latter makes it clear several times that they need two. Also, the resort is visited by many scantily clad people. Sharona gets some beads but does not know why they are distributed.

One More Time: “All our bags? There were eighteen of them. We were only gone five minutes. It would take a small army to take them.”
Monk raising some very good points about his luggage being stolen.

Trivial Matters: One guy wants to go upstairs with Sharona who would rather chew glass. There is an amazing invention called sugar-glass which would make that a safe possibility.

This is the only episode taking place mainly outside the US in the series.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Here he is, the genius form America. Here to show us how to solve a simple homicide.” This episode has some of the worst tropes in the industry. For one, Mexico is not put in that great a light. The police believe everything is drug related. Monk’s luggage is stolen. It is a haven for rich kids on break. There are some good bits thrown in but a lot of it is bad publicity.

Worse still, we have a fake out with Monk’s death. Pretty sure that the lead character with top billing won’t be killed off in episode two of the season. It leads to a couple good scenes with Stottlemeyer and Disher back in the states, but we know how rare it is especially at this point in time.

This show goes out of its way to torture the main character. This can be good in very small doses when you can tell Shaloub is having fun, but here he refuses to eat or drink for more than a full day. They try to keep things lighthearted but do not succeed. It is like having the main character be miserable does not lead to good viewing.

As a criminal, Navera is plain stupid. He confesses at the end, but had he not done so there was nothing to tie him to the crime. He was wearing gloves when he cut the parachute as seen in Here’s What Happened and but not for blurting out the confession, would have gotten away with it. There was a clue with the drapes but that was circumstantial at best. There is a line about the fingerprints so Navera eventually realized he should be wearing gloves?

Almeada and Plato are stand ins for Disher and Stotlemeyer down to their first appearances with Almeada being skeptical and Plato fixing his superior’s tie. Plato and Sharona even flirt a bit. So much of this is contrived but that is kind of the point. The writing is hit and miss but has some great moments, chief among them Stottlemyer laying out the accolades for Monk. It says a lot about the relationship between the two beyond acquiescing to the demands.

The guest cast is adequate enough as is the writing and directing but there are a lot of things that bring this down, especially this early in the season to sideline two main characters in the cast.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#599057
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame"
Season 2 Episode 3
Directed by: Michael Spiller
Written by: Hy Conrad
Original Air Date: July 11, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: A very wealthy Lawrence Hammond and his wife, Erin, depart for the evening. They are confronted by reporters about a scandal but leave after barely acknowledging the press. They use a veeery early GPS system to navigate but arrive at an assassin; not their intended destination.

Sharona and Monk are supporting Benjy at a little league game. Stottlemeyer is a coach … for the other team. They get word about the Hammonds and are off to the crime scene. It appears that Erin was the primary target, Lawrence survived and crawled miles to get help only to succumb to his injuries but not before uttering his final words “Girls can’t eat fifteen pizzas.”

Monk and Sharona go to the Hammond Estate with Monk interested in Erin’s room. They see she was a baseball fan to the point that the housekeeper confirms she never missed a game. Monk goes to the station to report that Erin was having an affair. Stottlemeyer cannot ignore it and has Randy investigate an Inn she frequented. There is also a baseball player who is close to setting a record for hitting the most homeruns in a season. Based on a painting in a profile, Monk suspects he was Erin’s beau. This is confirmed by going to an art class and interviewing the instructor.

Scott Gregorio is close to the record just needing three more homeruns in four games to make the record. He talks to Monk and Sharona about Erin, whose death is affecting his hit rate. Weeks ago, someone attacked him with a baseball bat. It was ineffectual but the league hired a couple guards just in case. Gregorio offers whatever help he can and winds up coaching Benjy. He and Monk bond over lost loves and Gregorio mentions a mnemonic device, leading Monk to a eureka moment.

“Girls Can’s Eat Fifteen Pizzas” is code for a license plate GCE 15P. That was the car the assassin used. Randy finds out that the car was stolen/abandoned and they have the discussed how to mislead the GPS. Also, they have a very grainy picture of the suspect. After a session with Dr. Kroger about spending time with Benjy and not having kids, Monk obsesses over the picture, certain he has seen the suspect before. Monk and Sharona interview the current record holder’s lawyer. There is no animosity as records are meant to be broken. Also, he was calling the game, so he had an alibi.

At a game, Sottlemeyer aggravates the umpire out of the game. Monk does not have a kid in the game, meaning he can umpire despite having his supervisor being a coach and his employee having a player in the game. He aggravates the parents by calling repeated timeouts, aggravates the scorekeeper by continually changing the calls on the field and causes injury to a player by making the home plate literally squeaky clean. Benjy winds up winning the game as and he is congratulated by the team and Stottlemeyer gives him the game ball saying it will be worth money someday, Monk cracks the case.

The group visits Walker Browning, a down on his luck holder of the winning baseball from the current record holder. Realizing that the value would diminish if the record was broken, Browning tried to ensure Gregorio would not break the record. Unfortunately, Browning did not wipe his prints from the adjustment bar under the seat and Stottlemeyer found a partial print. Walker is arrested but Gregorio still falls short of breaking the record.

Later, Sharona is telling Monk that Benjy is improving and might be cleanup next season. They find Walker’s dog that still has the baseball, but it is chewed beyond recognition. Or value.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk tells that the one numeral on the baseball scoreboard is upside down.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona strongly suspects that Stottlemeyer’s son is too old to play in little league.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer got special dispensation for his son to play in little league.

Dishing it out: Randy fumbles being able to grab a post-it. Why he grabs one when going out to question a building full of people is an exercise for the viewer.

Let’s Talk it Out: Without looking at a watch, Monk knows exactly how long he has been in a session with Dr. Kroger.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy doesn’t get a pep talk as much as he has one described to him as Monk goes through every hand gesture in the book.

Let’s Up the Rating: Monk manages to avoid seeing himself naked every day.

One More Time: “Give him a pep talk, he respects you.” “Why?” “Because he doesn’t work for you.”
Sharona trying to be a good parent and a bad employee.

The Rainbow Treknection: A pre The Office and pre Harry Mudd Riann Wilson gust stars as Browning.

Not to be outdone, A pre-Malcom Reed’s mother and post Londo Mollari’s wife Jane Carr ais the Hammond’s former housekeeper.

Trivial Matters: While at the art class, Monk sets a vase upright and the class moans. They do not care for his standing in front of the subject they are drawing.

There is a bit of gallows humor when the GPS thanks the driver for arriving safely. A similar gag was used in Doctor Who.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “I’ve seen better pictures of Bigfoot.” It figures the episode would revolve around baseball but there are no players in the hour at all. This is the perfect time to have a cameo with even a retired player. Heck, we see more of little league games than a professional one.

The little league scenes are down well, with the exception of Monk’s montage. Parts are great but when he is boring the crowd by cleaning up and not having his calls clear, it annoys us just as much. The extras, most of them kids, are up to the task.

Riann Wilson does a great job as well. He is mostly rote as the bad guy who just appears at the end, but his door talk with Stottlemyer is on point, showing the man who would eventually become Dwight Schrute. He makes his mark here. The rest of the cast is workable in an instance where they have a few scenes here and there.

The writing is great with Hy Conrad keeping things moving. This show thrives on a multi part story and here we have one with information coming at a decent pace. Nothing is really amazing, but it is a good hour of television to keep you entertained.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#599387
Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus
Season 2 episode 4
Written by James Krieg
Directed by Randy Zisk
Original Air Date: July 18, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: A ninja jumps over a wall and hides on a rooftop. An asshole at a restaurant is asked to put out his cigarette which he does in the most asshole way possible and demands an applause. He gets the applause … somehow but the ninja jumps down, shoots him and makes an escape.

At the crime scene, Monk has admiration for the skill of the killer. He notes that there is no sugar at the table but there are at the rest. Stottlemyer tells about the escape and Monk wonders if the circus is in town. Not only is it in town, but the victim is the ringmaster.

At the circus, Stottlemyer and Disher look into the sole registered gunman, an animal trainer, while Sharona and Monk head to the stables, thinking of the sugar cubes. They find a paramour of the victim, Sergey. Irinana tells them that the culprit has to be Natasha, Sergey’s ex-wife. Irinana did not go to the cops due to not being a citizen though she is working towards that goal.

Sottlemeyer and Disher question animal trainer Nickolai Petroff who is an ex of Irianna. He keeps a gun in case the animals get out of hand, but it is locked in a trunk. As it turns out, the lock has been jimmied and the gun is gone. Petroff is taken to the station.

Monk finds Sharona in distress but does not notice until it is pointed out. She tells him of a horrifying incident involving elephants when she was a kid, but Monk asks her to get over it. This puts Sharona in a tizzy which puts Monk in a tizzy. They meet Natalia who has a motive and no alibi, but she is in a wheelchair with a cast on her leg.

While Sotttlemeyer and Disher suspect Petroff, Monk believes Natasha is their prime suspect. She broke her foot after a trapeze accident but did not see a doctor due to personal beliefs. Stottlemeyer asks if she will consent to an x-ray. She does and the doctor confirms that the foot is shattered and there is no way she could have run off. As they exit, Natasha and Monk verbally joust.

Upon her return to the circus, Natasha meets with elephant trainer Edgar Heinz. He saw Natalia the other night and blackmails her for a date. She agrees to later that night at a specific location. Sharona takes the day off, to the irritation of Monk. She tells him how she feels over the phone, but Monk sees Natasha and hurriedly hangs up. He notices that her bandages covering a two-week-old injury are clean, but Natalia says they started to itch so she put on fresh ones. Stottlemyer and Disher find the murder weapon in a cannon. They fast track it for prints.

Monk sneaks into Sharona’s via Benjy. He calls her fear of elephants irrational but she throws back in his face things he is afraid of that are not rational such as crooked paintings and food touching. He does express empathy which does not heal their rift but is a start.

Natalia engineers a doohickey with a radio and places one behind the elephant’s ear. Later, Monk brings Sharona to the elephant to get her over the Pachydermophobia. It goes well, but when Heinz puts his head under the elephant’s foot, Natalia uses the radio and instructs her to put down her foot.

Monk tries to comfort Sharona but it does not go well and she ends up making him a cup of hot cocoa. As he looks at the marshmallows, he realizes that the accident was anything but.

At the circus, the foursome confronts Natasha as they quickly discover the planted radio. Monk believes she faked the injury and killed Sergey in plain view of witnesses. When she needed medical documentation on the injury, the elephant obliged, unknowingly watched by Heinz. Her prints would be on the batteries of the radio. Natasha tries to affect an escape but is stymied by the elephant. Monk over empathizes with Sharona.

Benjy and Monk help Sharona get over her fear, but Monk has to go after he steps in something.

This Week’s Compulsion: A juggler asks Monk to toss him an orange. He does, only to hit the juggler right in the nose.

White Courtesy Phone: Upon exiting the horse corral, Sharona finds herself in front of an elephant.

Dishing it out: At the crime scene, an officer is fangoobering over Monk and Disher plays dumb.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer asks Officer Fangoober to leave because his socks don’t match.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger knows what is going on between Monk and Sharona but will not tell Monk, his paying client.

The Innocence of Youth: It does not take Benjy long to realize letting in Monk was a bad idea.

Let’s Up the Rating: One of the circus performers is a scantily clad bodybuilder.

One More Time: “Nickolai Petroff?” “Who’s asking?” “This shiny piece of metals asking.”
Petroff not being polite and Disher not caring.

Trivial Matters: Disher is drinking from an Olympic mug which has a big red bold “USA” printed on the side, coincidentally the network that airs Monk.

Monk is seen drinking Crystal Springs water, his favorite as seen in Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “No he didn’t understand. I’ve known you a long time and I don’t understand.” Putting your main characters against each other is the oldest trick in the book. It works in cases such as when Spock and McCoy argue over how to handle Kirk’s odd behavior or Stottlemeyer and Disher have differing opinions on a case.

It does not work with Sharona and Monk. Or rather it does not work when Monk asks Sharona to get over a fear. Monk is the central character, and we know he has issues, but he is supposed to be a sympathetic figure. His errors when trying to rectify his mistake are worth watching but initially, Sharona is just too aggressive towards Monk. Well, more like passive aggressive but it is not a good look.

It does not help matters as we saw the killer-kill-a-witness at the start of the season. We also have to assume that Natasha was smart enough to use gloves when setting the radio but not when putting batteries in them.

The rest of the episode holds up. The circus setting is a fun one and director Randy Zisk has some great shots of the various acts from stilt walkers to bodybuilders. There is even a ‘wheelchair camera’ when Natasha comes back to the big top. James Krieg wrote in some good bits with the juggler and the clown. A very early in his career Lance Kroll kills it both times he is on camera. He is on point and steals the scene giving a fantastic performance as the clown.

This episode could have been so much fun and while it had great moments, too much is in the way of making it great.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#599698
"Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man"
Season 2, Episode 5
Written by: Daniel Dratch
Directed by: Lawrence Trilling
Original Air Date: July 25, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: The Malden Health Center is abuzz, so much that security is tight. One of their residents, Miles Hollling, is the oldest man in the world and will celebrate a birthday this weekend. A man dressed as security guard goes into the room and kills Holling.

Karen Stottlemeyer is at the department for a visit and Disher runs interference while Stottlemeyer gets rid of the hooch and puts up items more pleasing to his wife. She suspects foul play in the death of Holding and wants Stottlemeyer to investigate with Monk. The positioning of the walker is far from the bed and lowered drapes Holling could not have reached on his own lead Monk to conclude that there is murder afoot.

At City Hall, Stottlemeyr asks the mayor to exhume the body which he does over the objections of the deputy mayor, Dennis Gammil. At the graveyard, Sottlemeyer and a digger reminisce over a cold case involving a seventeen-year-old. Stottlemeyer visits Monk with the autopsy report indicating strangulation. Also, Karen kicked him out and Monk invites Stottelemeyer to stay not realizing there are multiple suitcases, and it will probably be weeks.

Monk and Stottlemeyer go over the case file. There are few leads including a possible heir and a long shot that the second oldest man in the world did it. They also argue about a coffee table that Monk wants at an angle, despite everything else in his apartment being sqaure.

Sharona visits Karen hoping to get some reconciliation going since neither Monk nor Stottlemeyer can get any sleep. Karen is unsympathetic since Stottlemeyer still has not watched the one-hour documentary she made on Holling. Stottlemeyer complains to Disher about Monk cleaning the restroom for an hour and a half before they visit Holling’s son, Hiram. There is no motivation from the loving son who continued to watch his father, even on TV, such as when they buried a time capsule in his honor. Holling received threatening phone calls up until his death.

Stottlemeyer goes over the latest developments with Monk, after receiving the documentary to watch. The phone calls were made from a pay phone, but Monk looks at the records from the center and sees that one guard misspelled his name on a sign in sheet the day of the murder. They go to the house of George Rowe (the killer misspelled George Rowe?) while Sottlemeyer believes the cold case was the start of his marriage collapsing. At the house, they find enough disarray to force their way in and find Rowe dead. Even outside the house, Monk realizes that the killer was a stranger.

Stottlemeyer has moved into his office as Monk was cleaning all night. Disher beleives the killer is going after world record holders, but Stottlemeyer does not see that as a possibility. That night when Monk vacuums the area where Stottlemeyer already vacuumed so that the grain is parallel, Stottlemeyer is pushed over the edge. He will beg Karen to take him back so that he does not have to live with Monk, but she will not take him until he sees her documentary. They watch the piece which cost $45,000 to produce and is, using the most charitable word possible, appalling. They get to the burial of a time capsule where Holling has written a book about himself and the mayor proclaims that if he lives another five years, they will dig up the capsule early and add another chapter. Upon seeing that scene, Stottlemeyer solves the case.

Monk and Stottlemeyr visit Gammil who they suspect was the perpetrator of the hit-and-run that is plaguing Stotlemeyer. He owned a model and color of the car and when the office produced a list of owners of that type, his was omitted from the list. With nothing to prove their claim, they are sent on their way. As they leave, Monk realizes Gammil has a snake bite, and they ask permission to dig up the time capsule. Inside, Gammil wrote a confession, thinking it would be buried for a century. If they dug it up prematurely, he would be found out, so he took matters into his own hands.

There is also a love note from Karen to Stottlemeyer found. The reconcile thanking Monk and Sharona.

That night, Monk thinks back to when he was exhausted after a long day and Trudy would move the coffee table so he could lay his head on her lap.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk wants Stottlemeyer to set the alarm for 8:00 instead of 7:53. They comprise with setting the alarm at 8:00 but setting the clock ahead seven minutes.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona talks to Karen while Monk is studying the crime scene.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer opens the episode talking to a woman unhappy with a bulletin board on her commute.

Dishing it out: Disher shows Karen his new sidearm to keep her busy, not knowing she is opposed to guns.

Let’s Up the Rating: After the Stottlemeyers get back together, there is much smooching.

One More Time: “The first thing in the morning I’m going to call the Vatican to nominate Trudy for sainthood because you are impossible!”
Stottlemeyer going all Oscar on Monks Felix.

Dear Genre: Kurt Fuller would play a coroner on the sister series to Monk, Psych starting out as a recurring regular before becoming a series regular.

Patrick Crenshaw, the old guy who dies, may be familiar to fans of Old School where he played the old man who dies.

The Rainbow Treknection: Character actor Bill Earwin plays Hiram after playing Dr. Qunace in The Next Generation’s “Remember Me.”

Trivial Matters: The Odd Couple themes to this are a homage, particularly a time when Monk asks Stottlemeyer when he will be home for dinner.

Bill Earwin is actually four years older than Crenshaw who plays his father.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Are you working on a script?” “I make documentaries.” The standards of the show are established by now. Sharona and Monk are a pair as are Disher and Stottlemeyer. That is how the show is written but those are the pairs. Changing that up could lead to something interesting and it worked very well here.

Pairing Monk and Stottlemeyer is better than pairing Monk with a random person because of the history they share. Stottlemeyer does not want to leave to hurt Monk and Monk does not want to kick out Stottlemeyer who was there for him. It is clear that they both desperately want to separate. Sotttlemeyer’s descent into madness goes down a slope but the two work well together. It is not in a professional setting but rather home life which they cannot escape from. It is not great to see Stottlemeyer go off on Monk at the end; that is very off putting actually, but this version of The Odd Couple is a good one as Levine and Shaoub have great chemistry together as is expected by this point.

This is the introduction to Karen, and we get the feeling that it is not a marriage made in heaven. There are wedges there and Karen is her own strong, independent woman. Well, that documentary is atrocious, the editors must have had a field day with that, but while it is not generally a good idea to introduce a character as an antagonist, it works here.

The mystery is well told and moves well, especially with Shaloub and Levine to try and keep the peace. But not for blowing up at the main character, something the show still has yet to grow out of, this would have easily been a winner.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#600165
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater"
Season 2 Episode 6
Written by: Tom Scharpling (teleplay) Wendy Mass & Stu Levine (story)
Directed by: Ron Underwood
Original Air Date: August 1, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: At a performance of Blood on the Moon starring Gail Fleming, Sharona’s sister, an actor named Hal takes a bite of an apple before getting stabbed. Except Hal stumbles around before falling down dead. There is a doctor in the house who pronounces Hal dead.

Stottlemeyer and Disher question Gail. There are normally two knives, one for chopping and a prop knife for stabbing. They only found two real knives that night though Gail swears she used the prop one with a retractable blade and that she would know the difference.

As Sharona and Monk discuss Gail’s options, Sharona’s mom, Cheryl comes in to visit. They break the news and then go off to the theater to investigate. On their way to Gail’s dressing room, Cheryl bites a prop apple to the annoyance of the prop master and to Cheryl’s as well since the apple tasted ‘lousy.’ Cheryl and Sharona find Jenny, Gail’s understudy, who has already packed up Gail’s things. She tries to be neutral but just got back from Hal’s service. Monk talks with the propmaster who demonstrates the prop knife and swears that he checked before the show.

They leave for a manicure (?) and go to a nearby solan at the recommendation of the propmaster (?) and find that Jenna made an appointment weeks ago, making her a suspect. The bail hearing does not go well so Cheryl puts her faith in Monk and Sharona.

It seems that Jenna is avoiding them and going to a speed dating event when she was supposed to meet them instead. It goes on and off for Monk (on when someone is interested in his handcuffs, off when he knows a woman is lying about her age) until he dates Jenna. Not recognizing Monk, she claims to have been at a party across town before the show started giving her an alibi, but Monk is still suspicious.

Monk and Sharona reenact the murder but do not get that far as the director notices what an amazing actor Monk is, having memorized the role after seeing it once. He is cast for the weekend as the replacement for Hal will not be in until Monday. The rehearsal does not go as well and only gets worse once Jenna arrives, finally recognizing Monk. The director mentions that Jenna asked for Hal to be hired and he was worse than Monk.

Monk talks with Gail in prison prior to his debut. Gail knows that Jenna has a habit of partying, and her co-stars have a habit of getting into accidents. There are no prints on the knife, but the police figure she wiped them off.

At their debut performance, with Jenna’s name of the marquee, Monk gets stage fright to the point where Sharona checks his pulse. He is all right, and in fact, has figured out the case. Jenna spiked the apples with an allergen, meaning Hal wasn’t stabbed but reacting to an attack. Monk is rushed on stage and Sharona finds (rather s large bottle of) the peanut oil that Hal was allergic to. Monk does not see it, but Jenna does, prompting her to grab the real knife. Sharona rushes on stage and a fight ensues with Sharona victorious. Stottlemeyer and Disher are on the scene after being alerted by Sharona to calm the audience. Thankfully there is a doctor in the house. The same one that was there when Hal was murdered. But it is not a doctor, it is Jenna’s father. He checked Hal’s pulse with a thumb, something no doctor would do, and swapped the knife. Jenna professes innocence but Sharona is dubious. Cheryl is also in the audience and leads a round of applause which turns into a standing ovation.

Sharona reads a review raving about Monk (to which the viewer wonders which show were they watching) and the family poses for a picture which is on a timer and ruined by Monk’s framing.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk tries to comfort Sharona during the questioning,

White Courtesy Phone: There is a lot of stuff Sharona flat out lied to her mom about ranging from her dating life to Monk having a full medical plan including dental.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer tries his best to give testimony that will benefit Gail but ultimately fails.

Dishing it out: Randy is quite familiar with Gail but maintains professionalism.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy has dinner with his mom and grandmother not knowing the formers lies and the latter not realizing that he can spell.

It Recurs to Me: This is the second and final performance by Amy Sedaris as Gail Fleming. She has less screen time, and we are caught up in the police questioning.

Let’s Up the Rating: Hal is a lot better at adjusting the cleavage of his costars than Monk.

One More Time: “I’ve heard about these. Instead of spending all night with one jerk you spend it with fifteen.” “That’s not how we would describe it.”
Sharona and the facilitator describing Speed Dating.

Dear Genre: Legend of stage and screen Betty Buckley is Cheryl. She won a Tony for Grizabella in Cats.

The Rainbow Treknection: Simon Templeton was the director within a show but was opposite Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner in King Lear on The Defector. He is also the husband of Rosalind Chao and starred on The Neighbors as Larry Bird.

Melissa George was Jenna but she will be Vina in Discovery’s If Memory Serves.

Trivial Matters: There is a Blood on the Moon novel and film, but this version does not appear to be based on either.

The propmaster name checks Richard Burton in Camelot, giving him at least four decades worth of experience.

Disher mentions meeting Gail a year ago, which would like up with Mr. Monk and the Earthquake.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “There’s something I got to tell you.” “Oh no, a bad review?” There are two great acting moments from Tony Shaloub in this. The first is his trial run at acting with Sharona as they reenact the murder. Shaloub perfectly captures the role, and it is no surprise that the director hires him on the spot. The speed dating scenes is great as well. Monk is not known for sketch comedy but there is a lot of short fun scenes as Monk talks to his various dates.

There are moments for Bitsy Schram to shine as well. She has a great monologue where she tells Monk all the lies she told Cheryl and we have a dinner scene with the family where she balances those lies with her growing son.

Unfortunately, this is about all this has going for it. I’m not sure what Levine saw in this, but there was no understudy available for Hal? In San Francisco? Plus, why did Jenna’s dad say he was a doctor at the second performance? As great as the acting is, the scenes with Monk actually rehearsing and performing are not that great. Why does he become a bad actor at the dress rehearsal if for no other reason than the script calls for it?

Worse, this is a waste of Amy Sedaris and Betty Buckley. These are two great actresses, and nothing is done with the latter while we get some refences to what the former has been up to since we last saw here, including Disher trying to brush it off, but there was so much more that could have been done that was left on the table.

All the pieces for a great hour are there, they just do not come together.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#600657
"Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect"
Season 2 episode 7
Written by: Karl Schaefer & Hy Conrad
Directed by: Jerry Levine
Original Air Date: August 8, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: Stottlemeyer and Disher are on the street questioning Trevor about a cousin. Suddenly, someone rams into their cruiser several times, yells them off and drives away. They tell Dwayne to stay still (who runs away almost immediately) as Disher gets in the driver’s seat and Stottlemeyer calls in the information. Before they can get in gear, another car rams the first causing a major accident.

After talking with Dr. Kroger about a birthday gift to get Benjy, Amanda Babbage is on the phone when a package arrives. She recently moved and was not expecting anything and as she opens the package, it explodes.

At the scene, the bomb was pretty standard but got the attention of the ATF whom Sotttlemeyer would really like to impress. Monk admires the intricacy of the somehow bomb-proof knots. He also determines that the package was forwarded due to even more amazingly intact address labels.

Ricky Babbage arrives on the scene. Brother to Amanda, there are arguments over their late fathers’ estate, with the reading of the will swiftly approaching. The ATF questions him but Monk figures Ricky is not a suspect; he knew Amanda’s address and the knots on his car are haphazard. There is another brother, Brian, but he has been in a coma for four months after the events of the teaser.

They go to Brian’s hospital room, and he is indeed in a coma. Nurse Stemple explains there Is no way he could have left though Ricky did visit to issue a subpoena. Monk notes Brian would not have known the new address and his shoes have expertly tied knots; he is the guy.

As ATF Agent Groomes and Sotttlemeyer question Ricky, Sottlemeyer is sent out for coffee. Monk knows who and why they just need the how. There was no accomplice since Brain would not know he would be in a coma. Groomes asks Stottllemeyer to sign off on Ricky, but Stottlemeyer is firm with Monk’s suspicion.

Benjy’s birthday party goes off well as Monk is able to tell the gifts by shaking the box. The festivities are interrupted by Trevor Fleming. Monk talks it over with the comatose Brian while Sharona thinks Trevor may have changed. They go to Brian’s estate to find Brian searching for a criminal lawyer, and a bad one at that. They also find ketchup bottles suspended from the ceiling, some of which have fallen. The maid opens a package suspiciously like the one that killed Amanda. Monk gets rid of it in time. After the scene is locked down, Stottlemeyer says the package was mailed days ago. Monk is firm that Brian is the suspect even though someone just tried to kill him.

Trevor bonds with Benjy and Sharona decides to move to New Jersey with him. Facing the prospect of losing Sharona, Monk talks to Brian again. He notices Brian’s watch is a bit fast and has bits of glue on it.

Ricky invites Sharona and Monk over to celebrate their freeing him, but he finds a package which he throws to Sharona. Monk disables it with the help of the bomb squad.

Monk solved the case; Brian broke into mailboxes and glued the packages to them. He caused a car chase to be put in jail for eight months, even researching a bad lawyer to ensure he would be in jail when the glue failed and the bombs were delivered. He did not count on being in a coma when that happened. Groomes wants proof and they visit the recently awoken Brian. The maid gives him a package which he believes is a bomb and that is all they need to arrest him.

Trevor comes to pick up Sharona and Benjy, but Sharona will not leave. She found a plane ticket to Detroit where Trevor’s rich uncle lives. Seeing everyone together might give him reason to put Trevor back in the will. Sharona is fed up with Trevor pretending to be interested in having a family.

Monk goes to Dr. Kroger’s on the return date from a vacation only for Dr. Kroger to have the cab keep driving. Sharona consoles him after letting Monk know she will be sticking around.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk has gone through several psychologists, including two that took an early retirement.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is stymied about why Benjy wants Monk at a birthday party but covers well.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer knows Dwayne knows but we never know their backstory.

Dishing it out: Disher has a new tie from his girlfriend. Sharona complements the taste in fashion, not men.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger is going to Costa Rica for a vacation soon. He told Monk about it for a month, but Monk seems to have blocked it out.

The Innocence of Youth: The last birthday gift Monk got for him were pajamas. The expression was the expression you would expect and matched the one this year with a rock polisher.

Let’s Up the Rating: Ricky had a meeting with a woman then another with her sister.

Here’s What Happened: When the package arrives, we see it is a bomb!

One More Time: “This is my first car chase. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.” “Chase is over. What do you think?”
Disher and Stottlemeyer’s dialogue during the opening chase.

Trivial Matters: The ATF assholes nickname Monk Marion the Librarian of The Music Man fame.

Not to be outdone, Ricky refers to a cop as a stormtrooper, presumably of Star Wars fame.

Stottlemeyer asks Monk for anyone besides Brian as a suspect, even Howdy Doody, the famous ventriloquist puppet of the fifties..

Trevor manages a restaurant and promises Benjy as many free burgers as he can eat. He will be on the street in a week.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “I’ve known fifteen thousand criminals in my life. Know what they have in common? They’re conscious!” One problem of episodic television is cast members are contracted so when they get ready to essentially be written off mid-season, barring a behind the scenes despite, there has to be some reason for them to not leave. See Riker and the Aires. He was offered command and decided as the hour ended that he could not leave as an opening credit regular.

This episode manages to give Sharona a compelling reason to leave. She can reconcile with Trevor and live happily ever after on the other side of the continent. She discovers it is a con just as the episode starts to end. It works on paper, but the problem is Frank John Hughes has no chemistry with Bitsy Schram or Kane Richoette. This is a problem when you have to make a compelling case to reconcile, though the lack of chemistry is understandable and works for the story. Still, Schram does good work with the material.

The rest of the plot is good, it just needs a shorter runtime. We know everything about a third of the way in and have a lot more to go through. The filler is mixed and gives the Fleming side of things time to shine but there is a lot of meandering, and we can only have so much of Stottlemeyer and Groomes arguing with each other, though it is good to have Sotttlemeyer take Monk’s side. This is a great example of a suspect not being able to commit the crime but needed more time to cook in order to work.

The overall plot if good it just needs to shrink so that the subplot can expand and cast a better actor for the love interest.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#601095
"Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy"
Season 2, Episode 8
Written by: James Krieg
Directed by: Tom DiCillo
Original Air Date: August 15, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: We’re at the Saphire Mansion owned by Dex Larson who is whisked away from a babe and cover modeling by CFO Elliot D’Souza. It seems that the magazine is hemorrhaging money what with DVD and the internet. Larson asks to hold off on the announcement for a couple days so that he can have a bitching anniversary party and D’Souza agrees.

Days later, D’Souza is working out and he gets a call from Larson asking to reconsider. D’Souza is firm and suddenly is crushed by his weights.

Monk’s haircut by Sharona is interrupted by Diane Luten, D’Souza’s assistant who suspects foul play. The crime scene has a floppy disc that had plans but is blank. Also, the clock is forty minutes fast but there is nothing else out of the ordinary. Stottlemeyer and Disher consider the case closed but their interest is piqued when they have an opportunity to go to the Sapphire Mansion.

Larson gives them a brief tour and has an alibi for the time of death, though he has to narrow down exactly which companion was with him that morning. Amber confirms that they saw the sun come up. Monk notices that the windows face west, and Larson talks about metaphors. Larson is about to tee off and Stottlemeyer prevents Disher for playing while Monk gets Sharona on board.

On the green, Monk is caddying for Sharona allowing him to question Larson. He made the call on the morning of D’Souza’s death from his cell phone for … reasons and while Laron returned an earring to Amber, she did not have piercings. Larson wins the game and fellow golfer Danny Bonaduce says that Larson would not let him leave on the bitching party on the day in question to the point where he took the keys. Monk looks at the car and finds ashes consistent with the cigars Larson smokes. For his part, Larson blackmails Monk to shut up with pictures of Sharona. They are softcore but he is free to publish them.

Amber continues to be dodgy in questioning but in a strange turn, Stottlemeyer, Disher and Sharona believe Larson did it, but Monk wants to end it, going so far as to consider offering Luten a refund. Sharona talks to Monk who reveals the blackmail.

Monk and Sharona go to a party to confront Larson. Monk is a party pooper while Sharona bonds with Amber over their respective kids. Monk is totally hit on by a babe while Sharona finds Larson who is resolute over not giving in, even when she mentions Benjy. She outright threatens Larson if the pictures get out. Monk has attracted a crowd with a poem Trudy wrote, though it brings down the vibe. Sharona asks him to leave and also take Larson down.

Sharona talks with Benjy about the pictures. For his part, Benjy is mature and firm that he can handle it at school if the pictures get out.

Back at the scene of the crime, Monk is sure he is missing something. He hears music being played downstairs by Noelle, who he met at the mansion. She mentions that Larson bought her the place a month ago. There are indentations in the carpet, ones that match a nearby ladder.

Larson arrives at the mansion to find a dozen police cars. They found an electromagnet that Larson built. He had keys to Noelle’s apartment, which just so happens to be below De’Souza’s workout room. While she was away, he went there and used the electromagnet on the ceiling causing everything to shift to the center of the room, even the hands on the clock. Larson says they have no proof, but Amber offers to confess.

Disher shows Sharona the envelope with the pictures and negatives before burning them. She asks if he looked at them and he does not respond.

This Week’s Compulsion: After Monk gets a wipe after shaking Luten’s hand, she wonders if that is protocol for all private detectives.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona notes that cutting hair is not in her job description. One wonders if the paper put down covering the entire floor or the plastic covers for furniture are.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer passed along Monk’s information to Luten hoping they would investigate and get a nice payday.

Dishing it out: Disher is a fan of the mansion, even knowing that when you are invited to a pool party there you do not need a suit.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy’s Popeye cartoon is interrupted by Sharona. When their talk ends, a Bugs Bunny cartoon is on.

It Recurs to Me: Karen is unseen but mentioned and Stottlemeyer even calls her to say he cannot make lunch though he leaves out the part about being in the Sapphire Mansion.

Let’s Up the Rating: Where to begin; a topless cover model, hot babes a plenty, a reminder to get more hot babes for the party, and that’s before the teaser ends!

One More Time: “Are you a religious man, Mr. Monk?” “He is now”
Luten and Sharona after Monk looks at a Sapphire Magazine.

Dear Genre: After being the lead on the short-lived Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade, Gary Cole was Larson.

Trivial Matters: Monk shows off Sharona’s pride in golfing by using the slang ‘duff.’ That is not the compliment he thinks it is.

As model of the year, Sapphire gets a Ferrari. No such bonus is afforded to Playmate of the year, but one is fictional.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “I was the kind of guy a woman like you would never like.” “You still are.” There are some great characters in this episode, particularly four actors. Shaloub is as always fantastic as the title character. He is out of his element at the mansion and is the only one to be so. He is hit on by a babe for reasons not explained to the viewer and captivates a group with his love of Trudy, though that brings down the mood. He also plays the dramatic beats well, especially when confronted by Larson.

Sharona has a great episode as well. There has been care to show Sharona separately from Monk this season and here we have her past coming to haunt her. Schram shows vulnerability in the role and has a very mature talk with Benjy. While some of his dialogue was obviously written by an adult, it is a good talk between the two and shows just how strong an east coaster can be.

Disher also has a few great moments this time around. While he and Stottlemeyer are both enjoying the mansion, he is the kid in a candy store having fun in the environment. Stottlemeyer has to bring him down to earth on occasion but Gray-Stanford makes a meal out of every time he is on screen.

If you would think Stottlemeyer is the fourth great character in this hour, you would be wrong. He is good as ever, but Cole’s Larson is played masterfully. He has the vibe of a techie turned playboy and matches Monk beat for beat. While other criminals on this show can shrug Monk off, he goes out of his way to dig up dirt. He thought he had everything planned out but did not count on Sharona being so strong willed. He has a smarmy attitude and can go toe to toe with Monk any day of the week. Casting makes all the difference in these shows, and they hit it out of the park with Cole. But not for actor availability, Larson would have been a great Moriarty to Monk’s Holmes.

A wonderful episode all around and they worked every inch of the mansion they could.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#601479
"Mr. Monk and the 12th Man"
Season 2 Episode 9
Written by: Michael Angeli
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
August 22, 2003

We’ll Need Some Help: Two toll booth attendants are conversing about commission and shopping by mail when a driver asks if he is talking to Frank Pulaski. After confirmation, a handcuff is put on Pulaski and the car drives off with a rope in tow.

After a tiff at the cleaners, Monk and Sharona get a briefing from Sotttlemeyer. Pulaski was dragged most of a mile and there is not much left. This is the ninth bizarre case in the past couple of weeks. There is nothing to connect them. When looking at the scene, it appears that Pulaski was targeted.

Arlene Carney is alone in a movie theater. A gentleman sits behind her and confirms her identity before strangling her. There are no connections until Monk looks at the bill the killer used; it is sequential to the one used to pay at the toll booth.

There is a connection for at least three of the victims; they have the same wall calendar. Disher checked it out and it is made by a small shop whose owner was out of town for weeks but will be back that night. Monk does a stakeout with Sharona who is on a date, and he nearly misses the action due to the odometer, paying heed too late to a stabbing.

Monk looks at the victims and realizes that they are diverse, too diverse to be random, but they all live in the same area. All eleven victims were jurors six years ago. It was a personal injury case where the victim, Ian Agnew, landed on a pipe, part of which is still in his head. Nothing about the case was extraordinary.

The police find the final juror who happens to have a finger in the freezer. He is not the murderer as identified by Monk, but Stottlemeyer has to close the case. He lets Monk talk to Agnew but gives a deadline for that evening. There are no leads there, so they check Stewart Babcock, the homeowner from the trial. They note that Babcock is now on his second wife, but they met earlier than they initially claimed.

At the press conference, Stottlemeyer is pressured to announce the remaining juror, William Cassidy, as the killer. Monk is not sure and asks for an hour. Stottlemeyer is willing to do so but the deputy mayor is not, so they split.

The Babcocks are getting ready to go out of town, but Monk arrives explaining that Cassidy was visiting the scene of the trial when he stumbled across the first Mrs. Babcock’s body frozen. He took a picture and finger using them to blackmail Babcock. It got too expensive, so he decided to kill each juror. There is some evidence with the torn sleeve from the eleventh victim which is used to identify Babcock.

The dry-cleaning service refuses to do business with Monk and Sharona’s ‘friend’ resigned from his post as deputy mayor ending the friendliness with the police.

This Week’s Compulsion: The ‘Ring Bell For Service’ sign at the cleaners has hand written ‘except for Mr. Monk’ rider. The sign also has an upcharge for Monk. Oddly enough there is a space for all this on the sign which is great foresight.

White Courtesy Phone: While Sharona keeps tabs on Monk, he will do things on his own occasionally, like making copies of dry-cleaning slips.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer pushes the guys away from Sharona before giving her his cell number and not being able to backpedal fast enough when caught in a verbal snafu.

Dishing it out: Several cops are being extra nice to Sharona due to her proximity to a possible mayoral candidate. Disher is not one of them.

Let’s Talk it Out: Monk tells Dr. Kroger that a teeeensy bit of him would like to use Sharona’s prospect to further his career as well.

Let’s Up the Rating: Sharona might be dating a future mayor.

Here’s What Happened: Sharona cuts into Monk explaining by hating on her beau.

One More Time: “Did I miss anything?” “No, we’re just trying to capture a serial killer before he strikes again. Hardly worth mentioning, really.”
Monk giving Sharona a brief, inconsequential update.

Dear Genre: Lauren Tom is dry cleaner Mrs. Ling but her voice may sound familiar as she stars as Amy Wong in Futurama.

Trivial Matters: There is talk about buying shoes by mail and not having an opportunity to test them out. One presumes they have some sort of return policy.

At the Alfred Hitchcock double feature, the two films are Psycho and The Man Who knew Too Much.

Disher uses a Mac.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “I’ll take my business elsewhere.” “Please do.” “I’m just kidding Mrs. Ling. You’re the best dry cleaner in the city.” Writer Michael Angelli put a lot of thought into this script. We do not see the first eight murders and things move along fairly well even after Cassidy is caught. That probably took time to figure out so as not to come across as too repetitive.

It wasn’t enough.

So much of this is one note. As the story progresses into a promising one for Sharona stepping out of her shell, we have another one note tale for her where everyone is doting on her just because she is dating the perspective future mayor. It gives us a good gag early on with Stottlemeyer, played perfectly by Ted Levine, but seems to be happening as opposed to being interesting.

So much of the story was cut out and even the title is a bit too on the nose. It is obvious to us that the case involves jurors but while we sometimes get knowledge before our characters, it just takes a bit too long to get there this time. The cast does their best to sell it, especially Tom as Mrs. Ling, but they cannot entirely salvage this.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#601828
"Mr. Monk and the Paperboy"
Season 2 Episode 10
Written By: David Breckman and Hy Conrad
Directed by: Michael Fresco
Original Air Date: January 16, 2004

We’ll Need Some Help: Jose and Nester Alvarez are having fun delivering newspapers in the wee hours of the morning with their truck. Jose gives Nestor the special instructions for Monk (perfectly flat paper, placement on the middle of the mat, etc.) not knowing they are under the watch of an assailant who eventually gets into a fight with Nestor before things get fatal.

A makeshift office is set up in Monk’s place. There is no explanation for why someone would want to steal Monk’s newspaper. Monk’s upstairs neighbor, Kevin Dorfman, stops by offering Disher his full history of addresses. He was asleep at the time of the incident with a new/first love, Vicki Selenes. Dorfman pursued her before, many times, but she said yes that night.

Monk and Sharona wonder why someone would go so far as to prevent Monk from getting the newspaper. The only answer is there is something in that paper they do not want Monk to see, so they go off to get a paper. They are offered a lottery ticket but do not take the bait since there was a winner recently.

In the paper, they see an article about someone who got into two auto accidents within a ten-minute time frame. They arrest Malcolm Comey who hit a grandmother and then intentionally struck stationary objects to explain the damage, but there is blood on the car. Comey did not recognize Monk, so he could not have killed Nestor.

Disher suspects it could be a prowler or car thief, but Stottlemeyer shoots those down as prowlers use crowbars and a car thief would not have gone for a paper. As the four look through the pages when Dorfman comes to borrow some olive oil to cook a dish for Selenes. Things are going great for them; they have not left their place since Friday.

There is an article about a victim in Paris who had her hands cut off, but they were found nearby. She and her husband worked at a prison museum. A call to Paris lets Monk reveal that the husband committed the murder. There were antique handcuffs that he lost the key to, so he improvised. Captain Dupart is grateful and offers to thank Monk the next time he is in the vicinity.

Seleens meets with an acquaintance who asks about loose ends. She remembers one and kills him. That scene is investigated, and they determine that it was not a random robbery and was committed by a woman due to the lipstick on the broken bottle used as a weapon.

Selenes has unplugged the TV so that Dorfman can focus on her. They later approach Monk and Sharona with news of upcoming nuptials for the following day.

Monk finishes the one-day old paper and throws it away before having a eureka moment. The winning lottery numbers match Dorfman’s past addresses. He plays those numbers every week. Selenes recognized them when they were read, and kept Dorfman busy while until they could marry, and she could have the forty-three million dollars. They interrupt a wedding, but it turns out to be the wrong wedding. They are too late for Dorfman’s but find them at a tourist attraction cliff. Selenes gets him drunk while they are on the railroad tracks in the middle of the night. Sharona tries to change the tracks, but Selenes interferes though Monk is able to switch it at the last moment.

Sharona asks Monk for a birthdate to play as lottery numbers. Dorfman comes back after buying two houses, at least, and making a friend of Danny Bonaduce. He gives Sharona and Monk a little tip as a way of saying thanks, four hundred dollars which is a little too low for Sharona who saved his life.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk hard nothing in the struggle as he was vacuuming.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona being able to open a bottle of water and a jammed car door turns into an argument about who is stronger.

Captain Moustache: We get the impression that Stottlemeyer invited himself to set up shop at Monk’s.

Dishing it out: Disher dutifully takes down the information Dorfman gives him.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger wonders if Monk is missing intimacy since Trudy died.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy gets Sharona and Monk to arm wrestle.

It Recurs to Me: In his debut, Kevin Dorfman walks into Monk’s place which is swarming with cops as an active crime scene, none of whom notice.

Let’s Up the Rating: Dorfman and Selenes being intimate is referred to many a time. This might beat Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy for naughty dialogue.

Here’s What Happened: We get three crimes solved, only two of which get the Here’s What Happened treatment which prevents them from having to hire additional actors. The sequence we get has voiced dialogue, a rarity.

One More Time: “If something spills, I want to be here.” “Adrian trust me, if something spills, you don’t want to be here.”
Monk and Sharona having a moment of clarity.

Trivial Matters: Monk’s love of Crystal Springs water is referenced as is Gail Fleming. Drofman’s reference to Bonaduce is a callback to us seeing him in Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy.

Gail Fleming gets a referenced.

Dr. Kroger mentions that there is time left on the clock so they can talk or sing showtunes, allowing Tony-winning Shaloub to sing “If Ever I Could Leave You” from Camelot. The way rights work, he starts, we skip to the end and with time left, he starts again, getting some extra mileage out of the deal.

The four-hundred-dollar gift is in three bills, apparently.

Poor Joseph Whipp is credited as Heavyset Detective.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “You just solved two crimes by looking at one newspaper.” Television has its share of episodes. Sitcoms have their “Throw a party when the parents leave but they come back early,” but no one has an episode dedicated to reading the newspaper, especially in this day and age. The idea is great, and it leads to some great moments, especially solving a crime on another continent. While there are location shots, a good portion of this episode is at least two people reading the newspaper at a table. Monk and Sharona breaking up the wrong wedding is comedy gold, especially a line from Sharona about liking the dress.

The execution leaves a little to be desired. Most of those parts involve the newspaper not being read. Two in particular stand out.

The Sharona versus Monk in a battle of strength does not really lead anywhere good. It has a payoff at the end but seems to be there just for a time filler. We know Monk is psychologically damaged and the feats of strength add nothing. Pitting the two series leads against each other works every now and then but not in this case and generally fails on this series when these two are at each other as antagonists.

The second is with the introduction of Kevin Dorfman. There is already a lead with issues on this series and having him be annoyed at someone else with similar issues is not a good look. Neither are the refences to either not being intimate recently. It is not like Get Smart where Dorfman is there as someone Monk can laugh at. Those details could have been left out for the better.

As an introduction to Dorfman, we have a likeable guy who goes on a little too long when talking but never wears out his welcome, at least to the audience. There is an issue with him repeatedly coming into Monk’s place, but it works, and he is endeared to the audience. You can see why he was invited back.

This could have been a great episode but when things go too off from the newspaper it fails.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
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#602068
"Mr. Monk and the Three Pies"
Season 2, Episode 11
Written by Tom Scharpling & Daniel Dratch
Directed by Randall Zisk
Original Air Date: January 23, 2004

We’ll Need Some Help: At the Tewkesbury Centennial Fair, Pat Van Raken puts a gillion tickets into the raffle for a homemade cherry pie. Gladys Dohan puts in a single ticket but winds up winning. Van Raken confronts her as she leaves, causing a commotion which causes him to steal her car and drive off.

At the scene of the abandoned car, Stotlemeyer and Disher notice that the wallet still has cash, meaning that the perpetrator just wanted the car. Monk is on the scene to pick up a check, which could not have been left at the station for reasons unexplained to the viewer. Monk wonders why that particular car was stolen despite Stottlemeyer’s best efforts to distract. Sharona gets several calls from someone claiming to be Monk’s brother. She thought he was an only child, but Monk admits he may have a brother and tells her to let it ring.

Monk has not spoken to his brother Ambrose for at least the better part of a decade. There is resentment after Ambrose did not attend Trudy’s funeral due to not leaving the house. Sharona picks up the phone and Ambrose, who spends his time writing instruction manuals, insists on Monk coming over as a matter of life and death.

At their childhood residence, Monk mentions that at the age of eight, their father left for Chinese and never came back. It is clear that the two have animosity towards each other but Ambrose needs Monk’s help. Some nights ago, he heard the Van Ranken’s arguing, culminating in what might have been a gunshot. Ambrose last saw her when she got some flour to make pies for the fair. Ambrose called the police, but they no longer take his calls. Monk says he will look into it.

Outside, Monk sings a different tune, but notices that Van Ranken’s truck has been moved recently. They decide to investigate (possible murder suspect) Van Ranken and go into his house, alone (again, possible murder suspect!) ostensibly to get the flour back. Van Raken was recently at a state park but got there just before close. He is cleaning up with his wife out of the country. Monk notices a single shoe in the trash. Later, they see Van Ranken leaving and decide to follow. Ambrose refuses, noting he has no Sharona.

At the fair, Van Raken enters the potato sack race and is oddly competitive, nearly tackling opponents. He takes a dive at the end causing him to come in second but earning him a cherry pie as a consultation prize. Sharona and Monk see him dig through it afterwards but have no idea why. They note that the carjacking also involved a cherry pie winner. Stottlemeyer comes to the house and while he gets a lot of answers about Monk while raising several more, he needs more to go on than lack of pie before he goes to the grand jury.

There is a third pie given out at the bingo contest. Monk (who does not need to mark the numbers) and Sharona sit by Van Raken, who claims victory and gets his prize. When he throws up his card in victory while knocking off the pieces, Monk knows how he did it. Stottlemeyer and Disher are on the scene to hold Van Raken. When he shot his wife, one of the shell casings wound up in a pie and he noticed after they had been sent to the fair. The gun was registered so could be traced back to him. But there is no shell in the pie. Stottlemeyer offers to buy Van Ranken a new one and is furious with Monk.

Ambrose wants Monk to stay for dinner, but Monk just wants to leave. Ambrose says that Trudy was in her the parking garage where she died because of him. He was sick and she offered to pick up some medicine.

Van Raken realizes that the missing casing is in the flour he gave back to Ambrose earlier. Ambrose is wise to the scheme and finds the casing after Van Raken cuts off the phone line and sets the house ablaze. Monk goes in to save Ambrose eventually coaxing him out of the house for the first time in two decades. Van Raken is arrested after his wife’s body is found at the state park.

The brothers Monk visit Trudy’s grave together and begin reconciliation.

This Week’s Compulsion: Hip series lead Monk wonders what is so special about the car since it does not even have a tape player.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona sees Monk’s childhood home and thought it would be more like a laboratory.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer wants to solve this on his own ‘for the novelty.’

Dishing it out: Disher plays keep away with the check for a few moments.

It Recurs to Me: John Turturro makes his first of three appearances as Ambrose Monk, a technical manual writer who shares many of Monk’s eccentricities.

Let’s Up the Rating: The town official tells the winner of the cherry pie he will help her eat it if she wants.

Here’s What Happened: We seen the brothers Monk and Van Raken reenact the crime to find out where the missing casing is.

One More Time: “Why aren’t you out there looking for him?” “Because I might find him.”
Ambrose questioning the actions of the police and Monk responding dismissively.

The Rainbow Treknection: The Master of Ceremonies at the state fair is the late great Leslie Jordan who was Kol on Voyager’s False Profits.

Trivial Matters: Both times we see a pulverized pie, it has perfectly clean sides.

John Turturro won an Emmy Award this episode which is one of Shaloub’s favorites

Ambrose echoes Monk’s catchphrases of his worldview being a blessing and a curse.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “I was being sarcastic.” “You were being sardonic. Sarcasm is a contention ironic statement. You were mockingly derisive, that’s sardonic.” Hrmmm, a lead character who does not mention his family members to anyone surprising everyone when they are revealed; this seems so familiar.

Tom Scharpling and Daniel Dratch knocked it out of the park on this one. We have the perfect introduction to Ambrose, and he is not seen until just under ten minutes in. We see that Monk has not told anyone about a brother and the animosity between the two. We also see Ambrose’s personality right away when he waves through the doorway. Monk being Monk we get a lot of Ambrose initially through Sharona. Her role as audience surrogate helps a lot here but eventually, we let Ambrose have his own time to shine. There is a lot for these talented actors to do and they deliver. Ambrose is not just a Monk clone; he puts his own spin on it. Monk is annoyed but not at the eccentricities, rather the way those are displayed. He has a system for the newspaper and that system is not chronological.

The ending is great when the brothers are able to leave the house together. There is still a long way to go, but they are on their road to getting back together. Turturro nails the emotional beats both when confessing to Monk about Trudy and realizing Monk finally got him out of the house.

Shaloub does not slouch on his part either. He is willing to give a little to let his co stars shine, especially ones of this caliber. We see Monk straightening out the piles of books Ambrose has, even at the end when he is running into a burning house and takes a moment to steady a pile of books. He sells us on the animosity between the two in the opening moments. We learn a lot about Ambrose through Monk before we even see him, and it is a credit to Shaloub.

Stottlemeyer and Disher get their way into his plot which says a lot for Monk just showing up to collect a check at the start. Ted Levine is into the role as he has to confiscate a winning pie and is pissed after there is no casing found. Stottlemeyer also gets some insight into Monk through Ambrose and is cordial while at the house of someone he refuses to take a complaint from.

Monk is the best when it balances the mystery and the dramatic moments. The mystery here is not the best but it leads to some fun moments including the most competitive potato sack race this side of the Brady Bunch. It is not enough to sustain the hour by itself, but provides a good backdrop to the drama.

An excellent episode with great dramatic beats throughout.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#602406
"Mr. Monk and the TV Star"
Season 2 Episode 12
Written by: Tom Scharpling
Directed by: Randall Zisk
Original Air Date: January 30, 2004

We’ll Need Some Help: Actor Brad Terry is at the house of his ex-wife, Susan Mallory. Things are cordial, but Terry owes some alimony. He promises it to as he leaves while she puts on an exercise video. The paparazzi are out there, and he answers some questions until they hear a scream from inside the house. He rushes in and comes out covered in blood asking the press to call for help. Being responsible members of society, they rush into the house and find Mallory stabbed.

At the scene, Monk and Sharona run into Marci Maven with a petition regarding Terry’s show. Inside, Terry admits to knowing Maven to the point of her being mildly obsessed. Disher notices that the exercise video is still on but when he stops it, the volume on the TV is very loud. The leading theory is that the criminal broke in through the back door, but the broken glass does not support that. Monk is suspicious as to why he parked his car in the driveway if he was trying to hide his location, but Terry says Mallory drove it most recently.

At a local watering hole, Monk and Sharona learn of a recent barfight with Terry and the bartender. Terry was shaken up about it and wrote a check on the spot but for an inebriated man, the penmanship is awfully perfect.

Monk and Sharona get a tour of the studio where Terry’s show, Crime Lab SF, is filming. They are nearing the one hundredth episode which guarantees syndication and money. Monk is abhorred by the errors on set. Mallory would have made a lot of money if the show was syndicated. Terry senses motive but offers to take a lie detector test.

At the station, they review the footage at the scene with analysis confirming Mallory’s scream. Terry passes the lie detector with flying colors and does an impression of Monk for good measure. He invites the main cast to a party for the show but leaves Monk off the list.

Monk is alone looking at his yearbook, signed only by his mom while the party rages. Maven crashes and is noticed by Stottlemeyer. She is quickly taken away for questioning as she is a suspect. At Dr. Kroger’s, Monk fails spectacularly at getting over the feeling of being left out of something cool.

At the station, Monk is called in for Maven confessing to the murder of Mallory. Monk reluctantly goes along with it thrilling Stottlemeyer, who can be a consultant on the show, Disher, who can get a line as an extra, and Sharona, who can invite Benjy to the set.

Monk has a talk with Terry in a trailer where Monk notes, thanks to a monitor on a stationary bike, that Terry’s pulse does not change when he fibs. Monk goes a bit overboard with the details between takes.

Monk visits the imprisoned Maven who he believes is covering for Terry, but she will not admit as much. At the Mallory residence, Monk finds that the TV is on full volume, just as it was they day of the murder. Also, the tape of workout is missing, and Monk knows what happened.

Terry redubbed her workout video with old footage of her screaming from a prior film and specifically set the volume low so that she would have to raise it. He staged the fight to get the attention of the press so that he would have an alibi.

Marci visits Monk late at night with him as her new obsession, proclaiming him the greatest detective in the universe and saying he should get his own show.

This Week’s Compulsion: At the bar, Sharona orders water and Monk order the best scotch in the house to make the level even. He gives it to a guy next to him who proceeds to order water to get some free scotch.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is concerned about her looks as they approach the crime scene.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer deems Terry’s show ‘All right.’

Dishing it out: Disher removes the tape from the VCR, puts it back in the box, then gets out the glove.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger was invited to a party for a classmate of Monk’s although Monk himself wasn’t. Turns out Dr. Kroger met Willie Mays.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy does not seem that enthused to be on set and has showbusiness explained to him.

It Recurs to Me: Sarah Silverman makes the first of three appearances as Marci Maven.

Let’s Up the Rating: At the party, Sharona declines to dance with Disher but Terry offers to teach her.

Here’s What Happened: Before we get the section on Monk, we get it from Crime Lab SF

One More Time: “Tony Danza ever kill anybody? Mister Rogers?”
Sharona with a wide variety of examples for good guy actors who are not murderers.

Dear Genre: Billy Zane was Terry but you might remember him from 24 as a jerky dad who was after Kim in the second season and will be forgiven if you do not recall him from the short lived Revolution.

The Rainbow Treknection: Sarah Silverman was still pre-fame as she debuted Maven in this which was after she was Rain Robinson on Voyager.

Trivial Matters: Terry would have made twenty million in syndication. Given that the super popular Friends cast made a million per episode, let us presume that figure would have been for the season.

Crime Lab SF is a parody of the CSI Franchise.

Marci promises Monk to never change the theme is he gets his own show. When the credits roll, it is the first season theme we hear.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “The machine is not infallible.” “Well, neither are you.” After the success of Monk’s suspect having a solid alibi five episodes ago, this may have seemed like an obvious choice but there are huge differences between the works.

For one, Monk drinks the Kool-Aid. It was a big deal earlier when Monk stuck to his guns and Stottlemeyer agreed with him, to the point of not going with a press meeting to confirm, thus setting back the investigation. Here, Monk is much more fallible. It does not help that Maven lies for reasons that should probably evaporate when she realizes the terms of prison. For that matter, Stottlemeyer, Disher and Sharona are all a little too excited to be around this cool show. We have seen that they speed up the process but only Monk is skeptical about the shortcuts used.

The contrast with Monk and the party is done well but is another instance of the show reminding us that Monk is not cool. I am glad that three quarters of the main cast are having fun at the party but why show Monk being miserable? In the end, Monk is right but there is nothing to erase what the rest of the script does to him for the first thirty minutes of the show. Everyone acts like it was all right to leave Monk out of the Cool Kids Club

Having a police procedural cover a police procedural might have seemed like a winning idea at first, but from a practical standpoint, the actors had to explain show business to us, which is probably a very boring thing for them to do.

Fortunately, we have some great performances. The core cast is at their best and Silverman shows why she would have a meteoric rise to fame. She hits the dramatic beats and has excitement in her first scene while showing vulnerability in later scenes. She is only grating in the final scene which drags on a bit too much. Other than that, she is fantastic.

Billy Zane inhibits Terry with the charisma you would expect a Hollywood star to have. He is cordial to Monk and gets along with pretty much everyone. He is not letting on that he did the murder and but not for the final scene would be a guy to hang around with, despite being rude to the title character.

Such a waste of great talent.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#602803
Mr. Monk and the Missing Granny
Season 2 Episode 13
Written by: Joe Toplyn
Directed by: Tony Bill
Original Air Date: February 6, 2004

We’ll Need Some Help: Nana Parlo is going over the TV listings with her cat, whom she is considering adopting. She is oblivious to some men who come in and kidnap her. Nana’s granddaughter, Julie, takes note of the two men making off with Nana and screams for help.

Thankfully, the kidnappers spraypainted that they will call on Nana’s wall. Stottlemeyer and Disher are on the scene for that call for tracing purposes. Julie asks about Monk, but Stottlemeyer says that is for when they are stumped. Throughout this, Disher’s allergy to cats comes up. Frequently.

Julie visits Monk directly and the issue of payment comes up, specifically that she cannot pay Monk and Sharona, whom Monk pays, does not like that. Julie is a law student and she spoke to Professor Emory about getting Monk reinstated.

The call comes in, though there are issues when Monk distracts Julie. Thankfully, they call again and demand a turkey dinner for the mission district. Five hundred dollars’ worth of food seems like a bargain and sure enough, Nana turns up after dinner is served. The case being solved, Sotttlemeyer notes that the kidnappers treated her will with all the pizza she could eat. She also believes she knew their voices but could not nail down from where or whom.

Ron Abrash of the Lightning Brigade is brought in for questioning. Stottlemeyer invites Monk to the questioning as practice for reinstatement. Abrash has a solid alibi and the symbol for the organization differs from the one spraypainted.

Julie is distraught over the ordeal, but Nana tries to calm her down. Julie invites Sharona and Monk to a study group later. They are faced with a news crew and Julie sings the praises of Monk, not knowing that the kidnappers are watching the interview.

The study group does not inspire confidence, from the student not realizing that if they pass the bar in Peru, they will only be able to practice in that country and not realizing that stay of execution orders are affected by Daylight Savings Time. Thankfully, they spoke with Professor Emery and Monk can be reinstated if he declares himself disabled. As he considers that notion, he is delivered a note asking to meet on the third floor. That turns out to be a murder attempt, but Monk avoids certain death!

They use the clues Nana remembers to pinpoint the house she was taken to and get pictures of the occupants, the Malloney’s, local antique dealers. They inquired about the lost cat some weeks ago, but it was not the right one. This does not explain why they would want the turkey dinners, but Monk wants to wait until after he in reinstated before he brings it to Stottlemeyer.

The test goes poorly and Monk barricades himself in Stottlemeyers office, to the point of securing the door with a chair. Monk realizes that the kidnappers just wanted Nana’s chair. At the Malloney residence, Julie recognizes the chair, but they have a receipt from the original dealer who is now deceased. Monk notes that Disher is not sneezing, meaning that the Malloneys never had a cat and saw the chair in the sign advertising a lost cat. Julie is ready to sell the valuable chair, one that Thomas Jefferson sat on while writing the Declaration of independence.

Monk puts away his old uniform, but Sharona hangs it back up.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk is being veeery careful to cut his coupons when Julie meets him.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is tickled that Disher has to sit out of a questioning.

Dishing it out: Randy thinks the lightning bolt the kidnappers spraypainted is a reference to a radical group from the seventies.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer remembers some of the seventies.

Let’s Up the Rating: Upon hearing about Disher’s cat allergy, Sharona ponders getting one. Disher responds that she will have company on Saturday nights.

Here’s What Happened: We get a sequence of Julie putting up lost cat posters and the Mallooneys meeting said cat. It is not in black and white but it is desaturated.

One More Time:: “Where is the FBI? I am a lawyer and I know that in a kidnapping, the FBI has juris prudence.” “That’s only true if your grandmother has bene taken across state lines.” “Or if your grandmother has been taken for more than twenty-four hours and I think you meant to say jurisdiction.”
The first of many embellishments by Julie with Disher and Stottlemeyer correcting her.

Dear Genre: Following fellow Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon, Rachel Dratch guest stars as Julie.

Trivial Matters: Nana is a fan of Tom Hanks, especially if she were a decade younger. Sex in the City is too racy for her cat.

One instance that the chair was used by Thomas Jefferson is that Monticello is on the back. We have to take their word for it since we never see the back.

Rachel Dratch is the sister of series producer/writer Daniel Dratch. Tony Shaloub’s brother, Michael, has the first of three appearances/roles as Ron Abelman.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “She can get you reinstated?” “She talked to Eugene Emory!” For a show that is a comedy drama, things can get fairly dramatic at times. The tag scene at the end is wordless but done perfectly. Sometimes, dialogue is not needed.

Though you cannot have an entirely dialogue free episode, at least this side of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and they found the perfect person to say that dialogue in Rachel Dratch. Known as a comedic actress, she showed her dramatic talents here. There are some moments of levity, mainly when she gets mixed up, but she plays the doting granddaughter perfectly. She is straightforward with Monk and while not the saving grace Nealon was, she holds her own. Pat Crawford Brown might be a little too on the nose as Nana, but they are a great double act.

The reinstatement is done perfectly. It is late enough in the season that Monk being let back on the force is a possibility. The sequence of him taking the test goes on too long and even Hugh Dane as Sargent Lane cannot save it.

As a mystery, this is done well with Nana being freed at the midpoint but there still being a mystery to solve. That being said, the cops are a little too nonchalant about a murder attempt on Monk. Plus, was the lack of cat really enough to convict the Malloneys?

It is especially refreshing that no one died in this episode. Normally mysteries rely on someone dying every week to have a case to solve, but everyone is alive at the end, a rarity.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
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Continuing Committee Member - Retired
#603095
Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife
Season 2, Episode 14
Written by Andy Breckman & Beth Landau
Directed by Jerry Levine
Original Ari Date: February 13, 2004

We’ll Need Some Help: Stottlemeyer’s wife, Karen, is leaving for a film shoot. Before she heads out, they come very close to arguing about their differing lifestyle preferences, but she departs on a not entirely horrible note. While on the road, a gunman shoots a tow truck driver which crashes into Karen’s car.

Stottlemeyer drops off a check for Monk and broaches the subject of letting go of Trudy even something as symbolic as getting rid of her old watch that does not work any longer. Disher arrives to give Stottlemeyer the news about Karen. At the hospital, she is stable, and they will operate soon.

At the scene, Monk notes that there are better places for the shooter to hide with better cover. There is a hole in a fence with a torn shirt. The shooter was barefoot and so was the victim when he was found. Sharona finds a stray dog and becomes attached, taking him with her, much to the annoyance of Monk.

Disher visits Stottlemeyer at the hospital. It looks like the truck company that owns the tow truck is in the midst of a strike and the driver was a picket line crosser. We see things are testy as Frank Bolston, in charge of the union, wants to know from an associate, Wicks, who is crossing the picket line. Stottlemeyer arrives and Monk tries to warn him off as things are going well for the striking workers; they are getting what they are asking for and the people are on their side. The meeting with Bolston and Stottlemeyer is tense, but Disher breaks it up with news of Karen waking up. The staff are doing what they can for Karen and suggest someone help Stottlemeyer. Monk helps his friend and things get a little better, though Stottlemeyer vents his frustrations out by on a vending machine.

Sharona returns the dog and totally flirts with his handsome owner, Evan Coker. Monk adjusts the sundial of a neighbor and is told off. Sharona discusses the case with Evan, including Monk’s suspicions, bragging that he is never wrong.

Karen wakes up and Monk gets volunteered to help out by taking the Stottlemeyer tots out to lunch. At a restaurant. In public.

At night, Evan is at the trucking company with a gun and shoots one of the drivers.

Monk confides to Dr. Kroger that he has empathy for Stottlemeyer while Bolson visits the precinct on a request from another officer. Stottlemeyer has a conversation with Bolston off the record, but Wicks walks in a and takes a swing. That turns out to be a mistake, but Bolston covers for them all.

Monk takes young Max and somewhat older Jerry Stottlemeyer to a fifties themed restaurant. Max has problems staying inside the lines of his coloring page and Jerry is somberly optimistic. There is a musical number that starts, just like every fifties themed restaurant, and it is oddly centered around Monk. A dancer bumps the table and when Monk adjusts it, he has a revelation.

Warrant in hand, Stottlemeyer is ready to raid the union. As they gear up, Disher gets a call from Monk and Stottlemeyer stands down. The car being towed belongs to Evan, and there was a gun in the glove compartment. He woke up to his car being repossessed and quickly ran out with a rifle but no shoes. In his haste, he left the gate open for his dog to get out. After the shooting, he took the victim’s shoes, so he did not have to get home barefoot. They find nothing to tie Evan to the crime, but Monk and Stotlemeyer have a moment culminating in telling Monk to never get rid of Trudy’s watch.

As the search continues to be fruitless, Monk notes the garbagemen picking up from the street. He chases after them. They find the stolen shoes and a discarded handgun is the refuse. Stottlemeyer is ready to manhandle Evan but is talked down from the ledge.

Karen comes home to her adoring family and a new digital camera Stottlemeyer bought which is a bit out of their price range, but it is only money.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk waits for the garbage collectors to arrive and gives them instructions on how to dispose of his waste.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona vouches for the doctors at the hospital since she worked there earlier.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer smooths things out with the garbage collectors, culminating in showing his badge to shut them up.

Dishing it out: With Stottlemery otherwise occupied, Disher takes the lead in the investigations and tries to bring other cases to Stottlemeyer.

Let’s Talk it Out: Monk notes that Dr. Kroger has a new white noise machine. Dr. Kroger offers to have the old one fixed and Monk is willing to wait while that happens to which Dr. Kroger clarifies.

It Recurs to Me: Glenne Headly makes her second of four appearances as Karen Stottlemeyer.

Let’s Up the Rating: After their first meeting, Evan is cordial to Sharona before being served with a warrant, which is probably not violating any regulations.

Here’s What Happened: Stottlemeyer interrupts Monk’s retelling. Also, Sharona chimes in.

One More Time: “Did you see her?” “Yeah. I’ll feel a lot better when she can see me.”
Disher and Stottlemeyer giving each other updates.

Dear Genre: Goeff Peirson has had a variety of roles, from dramatic works like 24 to sitcoms such as Unhappily Ever After. He can add Bolson to the list.

Trivial Matters: Sharona refers to Monk never being wrong. It would be more accurate to say that he always arrives at the correct conclusions as he was wrong previously.

A plot point is that the dog escaped from an open gate. There is a shot of Sharona where the gate is closed as opposed to the others where it is open. Oppsie.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “When you get there, please put my garbage in Sector Nine.” One of the reasons for doing this rewatch is looking at how well things age. Some things still stand up to this day, but others are not as welcomed. Here we see a very dark side of the police and things have not especially improved in the interim. Social media has shined a spotlight on them in several instances. Stottlemeyer is ready to raid a union on a flimsy theory and while he is called off the hunt, he was ready to go with the full backing of the department. Likewise, he is ready to beat Evan into next week, but is talked down off that ledge.

Other than those cringy moments, Stottlemeyer has a good episode. Karen is a welcome return and fuels Stottlemeyers understandable rage. He has bonding moments with Monk over their empathy, and Monk is willing to search through a moving garbage truck to help his friend. This is a favorite of Ted Levine’s, and it shows. There is a lot of emotion and showcases some delightfully understated moments as everyone tries to help him out. His gruffness speaks volumes, and he can hold it in when the time calls for it. Levine has chemistry with nearly everyone, including Geoff Peirson.

This is such a strong script from Beth Landau and series creator/showrunner Andy Breckman. There are great moments throughout both plot and character. This series might be titled Monk, but Stottlemeyer is on full and proud display with this episode.

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